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  • Writer's pictureTroy Ericson

To continue off my last post about my first time skiing...

I found myself sliding down a 8,000ft mountain, scared for my life… Context: I went skiing for the first time in my life. My fiancé Julia has been BEGGING me to go. She’s from Colorado, where people are born with skis on their feet. I’m from Indiana. And I currently live in Florida, two of the flattest places on earth. And not nearly as much snow (lol). So you could imagine how nervous I was to put on huge stiff ski boots that make it nearly impossible to walk. And then strap metal blades on the bottom of my feet that force you to slip & slide thousands of feet down a mountain. Even worse, as I rented my ski equipment, the workers started asking me questions in ‘skier lingo’… and were getting frustrated when I had no clue what they were talking about & forced them to speak in ‘I’m not from the mountains lingo’ instead. Then… as soon as I had all my gear on (after stumbling over a couple of times like Bambi learning how to walk)… I realized there was no tutorial or 'beginners' area'. It was time to get on the ski lift. So I managed to scoot myself all the way to the lift, which btw, is constantly moving. When the person in front of you hops on, you slide forward as fast as possible up to the red line where the lift chair hits you in the back of the knee & forces you to sit down on it. Then you’re lifted up the side of the mountain, about 50 feet above the slope. Which was a bit nerve-racking for me too since I hate heights. Specifically heights where you’re not enclosed like you are in an airplane. This is basically a chair floating above the ground that’s a lot easier to fall out of. Anyway… I got my first taste of skiing as soon as the lift got to the top… When I face-planted trying to slide off of it. (btw I’m not aiming for sympathy points here, I’m just describing the journey of someone who’s brand-spankin’-new) I’m 26, so it’s usually not hard to get up when I fall down. But when you have 5ft long metal blades attached to your feet, it’s a little more challenging… #LifeAlert After a couple minutes, I managed to figure out how to stand up… At which point I instantly started sliding, and ran into Julia’s dad. It literally looked like a comedy movie because we were attached at the feet, starting to slide down the mountain together while Julia was laughing at us. The only thing that stopped us was when I fell again. That’s when they decided to start my 'ski lesson'. Basically, the strategy was to point my feet in at each other so I could slide down the mountain without going too fast (skiing is more about braking since gravity accelerates you automatically). Easier said than done. Because it’s not just about understanding what to do… But also trusting yourself to actually do it… Even if it doesn’t seem to make sense at first. I probably fell 7-8 more times, especially as I got closer to trees or edges or other people. And it took a LONG time to get back up. I’ve never hyperventilated before. But I felt like I had zero control as I headed towards trees or edges. I’m an entrepreneur. I crave control. But this time I didn’t have it. And it felt physically dangerous. One time I fell toward the edge of a 10ft drop and remember yelling and trying to grab the snow behind me to slow down. I was pissed as I slammed my sticks down. I got mad that they convinced me to go skiing. I started to feel sorry for myself. I knew how dumb I looked. And how I was embarrassing them and myself. I started to think about how I wanted to be inside watching football… something that was easy & comfortable… And that I should have the rescue workers on snowmobiles come pick me up, take me inside, and never ski again. After I few minutes, I decided that, even if this sucked, it would be wrong of me to not put forth my full effort for my soon-to-be family. Because I believe how you do 1 thing is how you do everything. And if I can’t figure out how to be a decent skier… maybe I wouldn’t be a good husband one day. Plus, I’d had my back against the wall SO many times in my baseball career… and figured it out… that I knew I could do this too. So I slowly got up… and forced Julia’s dad to keep repeating things in different ways until it finally clicked in my head. Specifically, he told me to not just point my skis inward… but to also angle my knees inward to slow down when I'm going too fast. That’s when it clicked. For the rest of that ride down the mountain, I actually had a smile on my face. Because I was probably going 10-15mph. And I didn’t fall. It felt like I conquered the world as I zoomed by with the wind in my face, releasing a bunch of adrenaline & dopamine. And when I got to the bottom of the mountain, I was no longer fearful. I wanted to go again. The second time down the mountain, I only fell twice. The third time, I fell twice, but I was faster. The fourth time, same result. I was determined to not fall. And on the fifth time, I didn’t fall AT ALL. And I was freaking PROUD of myself... Which is something that I struggle with. I've always been hard on myself. But this time, I felt different. An hour before, I was placed on top of a 8,000ft mountain with zero training. And now, I was swiftly skiing down the side of it. I felt like an athlete again... Just like I was in baseball a few years ago. But you know the best part? This story is no different than business. Or life. In most things in life, the majority of your progress happens WHILE you are struggling. Because it FORCES you to think of a better way. That’s why the first time I went down the mountain, I fell 7-8 times. It probably took 45 minutes. The second time, on the same slope, I fell only twice. It probably took 7 minutes. What’s the point here? Most people quit on themselves when they try something for the first time… Without realizing that the second time is going to be exponentially easier than the first. If you’ve ever seen this picture, you know what I’m talking about:

Yet, the main benefit is not making it down the mountain, finding diamonds, or closing a client (although those things are nice). It’s proving to yourself that you can do something that you didn’t think you could do. It’s the INTERNAL win that matters most. Because those internal wins make you want to win again, and again, and again. And naturally, the EXTERNAL benefits & rewards come as a side effect of your INTERNAL persistence, belief, and mindset. Sure, there may be challenges on the way… (I tried the intermediate slope next and started falling all over again because it was a ton steeper… but I’m learning to shift & turn my back leg to slow down faster… and I know I’ll get it down next time) Challenges & hardship usually mean you’re heading in the right direction. Quitting only grants you temporary relief. Maybe for a night. Or for a weekend. But once that time is up, quitting leaves you feeling empty inside. And that’s something I can’t live with. In ALL things that I do. But just like in skiing, I wanted to quit… but I asked Julia’s dad for help (like, to the point where I was annoying)… But then everything clicked. And my struggles no longer mattered. Because I conquered them. So if you’re at all struggling… Just ask for help. You’ll be glad you did. Just like all good things in life, it might be hard at times… But the sooner you get help, the sooner you’ll have your next victory. Troy “Professional Newbie Skier” Ericson

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